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catching up

February 5th, 2014 at 05:15 am

Hola - Been a little while.

My first meeting as president of the condo board went alright. Mostly because I kept us on task. I can tell I'm going to have to be patient with an owner or two who will "sing the song of their people" over and over. Same tune too. The other big task is getting used to my gmail account and the condo board's gmail account.

Tomorrow is the Seahawk parade and even in this, the HR department is torquing me off with a unique ability of taking something simple and heartfelt and stomping the spontaniety out of it. Our HR will let us go but strongly "encourage" us (encourage with an underline in the email) to wear our t-shirts with our logos. Wrong on so many levels:

1.) This is a Seahawk thing, not an us thing (you might remember that I work for an non-profit with a Way at the end.) celebrating the Seahawks.

2.) Its lunch hour. Are you going to tell us when to eat also?

2.) its going to be 20F. Even me from Wisconsin, ain't no way I'm going to standing out there with just a t-shirt. Not with our health insurance. I'm layering and wearing a coat and that coat will be closed.

Bulls eye!

January 14th, 2014 at 04:06 am

Two more items on the Target front:

My CU is replacing my debit card.
Got a Target missive to go and get my credit monitored.

So far, no weird transactions. Everything looks clean.

Next week is my first condo meeting as president.

This weekend I finished a mosaic clock. Got a clock motor thingy from Amazon, drilled a hole my wood backerboard and got the motor thingy in. Mosaicked the backerboard, grouted, let the grout cure, installed my hands and put the battery in. Very pretty. I'll post a picture when I get a chance to take the picture in reasonable light. Hard to do when I leave in the dark and get home in the dark.

now being the pres

January 5th, 2014 at 06:22 am

So if you haven't been following along, during the condo all-owner meeting on Dec 8 I volunteered to serve on the condo board, and during the mini-board meeting held after I was selected to be the president.

Jan 1, I began my term. So suddenly things like the garage gate getting stuck/touchy during the winter/cranky when it knows you are in a hurry/blah blah blah ... now its my responsibility. I'm noticing every loose doorknob and freaking out just a little bit. Alternating with the freakout comes my family sense of humor - I was just thinking, as I was running my washer and dryer at 11pm on Friday, what is anybody going to do about it? I'm the pres!

And it turned out that since I have the largest sq ft footprint, I hold a certain amount of power. Tiny but there. If I show up, more than likely there is enough percentage ownership so that items can come to a vote. If I don't show up, everybody has to do a calculation just to make sure there is enough representation.

Seriously, my next board meeting I'm moving forward to ask and research where condo reserve accounts are. We now have adult amounts in reserves. (It will reach 6 figure in a few months) In CDs in a bank or what? Sure hope it is NOT in a money market fund - that would be the absolute worst of all worlds - no interest earned and no FDIC insurance so its not even as safe as it could be. Once I find out where it is I want to figure where best to put it if its in the wrong place.

Anybody else serving on a condo board?

I'm in the soup now

December 11th, 2013 at 04:54 am

For most of the time since last I wrote, its been 'keep on keeping on'. I get paid, I pay and now with my drop in my 403B withholding, I have a little left over.

However, we had our bi-yearly all owner condo association meeting last Sunday, and I had the flu and I offered to serve on the board, then while I was sitting there trying not to be contagious and trying to concentrate on keeping my body temperature somewhere above 90F....

I got elected condo president for 2014. Yipes. The secretary and treasurer are the same; they've been doing their tasks for several years and are good at them. So a little continuity here.

I've been told that the tasks will be fairly straightforward. Greeting new people, answering questions new buyers have, etc... However, I do have one project that I want as my one year legacy:

Find out what kind of account the reserves are in, and if they in a money market fund, for God sake, move them into at least a laddered CD.

groceries are striking here

October 19th, 2013 at 05:09 am

The union for 4 biggest chain grocery stores in Seattle has put in their 72 hour notice to strike. I sympathize so I'm going to see if can avoid breaking strike lines. I don't really have good alternative cheap places to get meat but I think I can do okay on the produce. We'll see.

I've been going back to the gym several times a week, logging in my food, etc. I've been bouncing around 175-180, and I would love to lose 10 pounds. My latest health check had my blood pressure at borderline hypertensive, so its another reason to exercise. I also swapped out my table salt for salt substitute. I don't eat too much processed food but even reading the labels on the stuff I do eat: phooey.

With the condo, my friends had a standing bet that within a year I'd be running the condo. Well, I've been asked to run for VP on the board. I don't know whether I really want to do it. I always think that "well do it for a year and stop" but I have serious problems with disengagement. Its the flip side of stick-it-tuitiveness.

But the intimate emergency fund (what the found money account morphed into) is doing well: $19.20. And I am still ahead on the 2013 death bet.

backsplash-o-rama

September 1st, 2013 at 08:56 pm

I still have to do my kitchen backsplash, but I helped lawyer friend and partner lay in their kitchen backsplash. We tiled two of them - they put in a basement unit with its own kitchen to rent out.

Both turned out well - my mosaic experiences directly translated - and I got free experience in set-up, the tile wet saw (don't know how running that will fly amongst my neighbors in the condo), doing corners, handling light sockets, using spacers, figuring out how to compensate for putting a design on a wall. It was funny how the three of us had different luck in the materials - most of it was subway tile with a glass tile band & I definitely had "glass tile" hands.

It was fun, but tiring. Now that I've got my own plan, know what color grout to use, and got fresh experience to draw, its time to do my own.

keeping on

July 27th, 2013 at 05:50 am

I had my frugal burn last week, and while I have a little more money at the end of this time period, I'll have another, smaller frugal burn ending mid August.

But I will have enough to do the Gumshoe with Spondilicks next weekend. For the first time in 10 years I missed the Greenwood Parade. Bummer, but it takes two buses, so I didn't feel up to it.

Not much more is happening. I've been sprucing up my 2nd bedroom for crafts - moved my work table around, unpacked a lot of glass, tile, and china. This week I painted two sliding closet doors in dk brown chalkboard paint (14$). Chalkboard paint goes on a lot like pudding; I felt like I was really slapping it on. Took at least two coats, a light sand to knock down the biggest brush strokes, and the third coat. Love the color enough so if chalkboarding doesn't appeal the color looks like I meant it.

kitchen was cheaper

July 4th, 2013 at 02:56 am

Got what I think was the last bill (dated to 6/28/2013) from the kitchen remodel contractor. All bills from them totaled $25,457. I was given an estimated budget of $27,900 and after having to put new flooring the estimated budget was $29,000.

Fingers crossed that I really got a last bill!

week 6 and the end

May 12th, 2013 at 06:22 pm

Officially, all that's left to install is: vent hood over the stove, the finish piece covering toe kicks, and the backsplash (which is all me). Vent and toe kicks should be installed next week. I'm working on backsplash - I toyed with glass tile, but dang I don't want to rent a wet saw to make those cuts for the pieces that will go underneath the light switch and electric sockets. Glossy ceramic tiles for me.

Here is the "final" w/flooring and appliances


And here's what I began with - put on those shoulder pads and flip that feathered hair back while you're sauteing...


Still a two wall galley, but smooth near indestructible countertops, all appliances, a nice high ceiling, all the electrical issues that came up in inspection are resolved, everything adjustable (can squish two shelves close together for an impromptu wine rack or far apart to accommodate that tall bottle of fish sauce), the sink is quiet, doors with pullouts, and every door/drawer is soft close. I didn't aim for grandiose and I didn't aim for toy.

The contractors also want to come in take their photos also - they are proud of their work and for good reason.

Cost was 29K for the contractor and 5K from me for appliances and some fixtures. Whatever the contractor could get more cheaply even with their markup they bought (worked that way with cabinets, countertop, sink, faucet, under cabinet lighting, flooring) and whatever I could get more cheaply I bought. Not cheap, but at least I get to enjoy it first. Nothing like improving for somebody else.

week 5 & 5.5

May 1st, 2013 at 03:17 am

Week 5 on the kitchen remodel was a bit slow - just the lighting was installed and the appliances were delivered.

Lights .... I think I will call them my War of the Worlds lights due to their tripod nature.


This weekend, I did a recon mission on a couple of tile stores. Score - I love to work with vitreous glass and I finally found a place in Seattle that has a lot of colors. That, and other tile samples were what I picked up along the way. Couldn't make many final decisions until I see the countertops.


I throw out week 5.5 because yesterday (my 51st birthday!) the contractor installed the countertops, (I also showed the undercabinet lighting here) -


And today, the sink and faucet were fully installed (also a good shot at the countertop pattern)-


Dang that flooring guy!

week 4

April 20th, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Cabinets are in. Because I have an undermount sink and a slide in stove, the appliances need to be here so the contractor can make sure the appliance/countertops are installed with no issues. Also the ceiling lights will show next week. And the dust curtain is gone.

I got the revised bill, and so far the extra flooring and slight shift in plumbing only added $1.2K. I know, I know, in the frugal twilight zone where $1.2K is a dodged bullet and not a disaster.

sink side -


stove side -

week 3

April 13th, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Monday the new floor was set up and the drywall was replaced. It was all sealed off, so that was my carryout day. I've been doing okay with the bag of salad with a vinegar/oil dressing, both ingredients that I could store in my little bedroom kitchen.

Tuesday it looked like I could paint, so I did, but it turned out the texture guy had to do his work, so I had to paint again Wednesday. Back of my living room had a wall of boxes full of cabinet:



FYI - V.I. is holding up. While work is going on, she's behind my bedroom door w/full access to bedroom w/food dish, bonus room, cat box in the master bathroom. So far, no sign of cat displeasure on a bed pillow.

Smooth painted box stage. I wanted to paint now because I figured it would be a billion times harder after the cabinets were installed. The white squiggles are where the under cabinet lighting's going to go.



Finished the week on a high note. Lower cabinets are going in. I have tried all the drawers and pull outs. All soft close. I have made a resolution to mentally take $1 worth of enjoyment watching the soft close work. I figure at 5x/day, $1600/yr. I expect the remodel is going to be 30K. I'm not going to totally recoup it, but I'm going to make a big dent.

week 2

April 13th, 2013 at 11:39 pm

Of kitchen remodel.

Basically it was at the bottoming out stage - they couldn't rip out any more ... drywall covering the plumbing was ripped out, and the drywall at chest level was ripped out so the electrician could install under cabinet lighting.



The gypcrete floor above the subfloor and underneath the vinyl had to be replaced, it was worn into pebbles in the work triangle between sink, stove, and refrigerator. That, and the plumbing had to be shifted a little bit were the only 'surprises' thus far.



The stove is gone - it is going to its second career as the stove of one of the contractors. He told me later that the stove was working like a champ.

Week 3 next.

week 1

March 30th, 2013 at 09:38 pm

I'm in the midst of kitchen remodel-o-rama. They started Monday. So from this, as I left it on Sunday:



And what it is as of this morning, stove side:



... and sink side:



How am I holding up? The contractors left me the refrigerator, now at the far end of the dining room, and along the side of my bedroom, my Japanese, camping kitchen:



As long as I store and have bag salad and hot drinks for a few weeks I won't have to resort to carryout. I've figured it will be about 5 wks, but frankly, it will end when it ends. I've also picked up paper bowls so I would only have to wipe out and clean 1-2 implements in the bathroom sink. Kitty is locked into the bedroom during the day - when I get home I cruise the kitchen to make sure there isn't any open liquids, sharp things.

So far, the contractors have been good citizens to everybody in the condo and other owners are now looking with interest how this remodel will turn out. Have not gotten a bill yet for the week, but I expect one soon.

dang busy

March 23rd, 2013 at 10:54 pm

Been nearly a month already since I last wrote something. Hopefully, though, it will ease up. It has to eventually.

Lately I've been hip deep in making decisions about my upcoming kitchen remodel - the sink and faucet, the countertop, the cabinets, the flooring, the lighting, the appliances. I sure hope that all of my decisions will play nice with each other, and the new kitchen will play nice with the dining room. I've also notified (and renotified) my condo neighbors and the condo board. The tentative start date is this Monday - I've learned that it really always be a bit tentative because the contractor wants to absolutely, positively make sure that the materials will get here with no delays before they start ripping up things to shreds.

Right now this is the last weekend of the old. I'm treating it as a calm before the storm. Tonight I take down pictures, pull out everything from cabinets. I have enough empty space so that the new refrigerator gets put into the living room. Saves me more decisions about where to put my freezer stuff - and it will be nice to be able store a bag of salad whilst the teardown begins. I've put the kitty food bowls in my bedroom and my fur girl is quite confused. I'm trying to tell her that THINGS will be different in the next few weeks.

The welcome packet project is done. Someone did buy a unit in the last week or two - I'll be a knocking at their door to welcome them, packet in hand.

Just finished my taxes, and yes I pay some. The price of good investing - I've made a bit of coin in these last couple of years, and I had to figure out cost-basis this year.

And of course an update on the death bet 2013 - about 1/2 the players got Hugo Chavez. Don't weep for the other half - they are playing Lindsay Lohan! Wink One player got a local celebrity - Booth Gardner, the former governor of Washington.

sailing along

February 27th, 2013 at 09:29 pm

So this is third try at a blog post. I don't know why they aren't getting captured...

Last couple of weeks I've been in saving mode and it feels great. looking forward to payday tomorrow, though. I backed off my 403B contributions to about 20% or 10K annually. I might have to back them off a bit more depending on how my regular spending settles out. FWIW, I capture the full match at 8%, and I contribute my 6K to my Roth annually so I will still be saving a lot, just not a lot a lot.

Decided on the sink and faucet choice, made a choice for a slide in stove, and am looking at flooring, signed the construction agreement with the contractor and contractor has ordered the cabinets and open shelving. Its on, its just that work will start when the contractor knows the cabinets are coming within two weeks.

I've been working on a project for the condo board - developing a welcome packet comprising of a FAQ about the condo, a Lake City Chamber of Commerce business guide, a kicky map of north Seattle, and current transit guides. Nothing too fancy, but something to have in hand and talk about when one knocks on the door to a new owner's condo.

First hit of the FCC. Spondilucks had Van Clyburn.

condo pictures

February 10th, 2013 at 12:45 am

I lost a long post. Sigh. So I'm going to show and tell.

Before - living room


Semi, After - living room. Imagine the redecorating crew cleaned up. Smile alone 4 chairs, the TV and a picture hanging over the fireplace.


After - dining room which is 180 degrees from the living room. Again, the cleaning crew has, ahem, done its job.


Before - master bedroom. I took this on my second visit before buying. Staged. Smile


After - yep, I like my colors.


Before - kitchen. After is in process. Smile


And because a couple of people asked about it, my homemade charging station, comprised of a lean-in 5 shelf bookcase and some strategically placed black twist ties.

one fat snowflake

January 21st, 2013 at 06:32 pm

I'm not playing the snowflake challenge particularly, but a big fat one came to me this last Saturday. One of the other condo tenants approached me about renting my interior garage parking space. Since I don't have a car and for the moment am willing to go carless, well yay, the parking space now is an asset. Asking around - the going rate seems to be about 100$/month.

The only issue I see is I have talked to a contractor about renovating my 1980s condo kitchen, and we talked about the parking space as a launch pad for materials - it would be much easier, safer, better for the materials in question if they were semi-inside on my parking space where the sub contractors can pull them when needed. Of course, I'd need to approach both the condo board and my possible parking space rentor about it.

There was a hitch in the sectional - just like amino acids, they have an asymetric handedness (left hand vs right hand). And just like amino acids, the left handed version is common, while the right hand is either toxic (as in amino acids) or has to be special ordered (as in my right-handed sectional). So I've bought the chairs first, then I disperse them to their corners when the sectional comes. None of these chairs are going to get heavy duty use for long periods of time, so I've cheaped out on them.

Discovered as I checked my Drp stocks that two of my stocks migrated from one transfer agent to another. Hadn't run across that before. All to the good frankly - the fewer transfer agents, the fewer passwords I'd have to remember.

Big purchases

January 12th, 2013 at 09:00 pm

...but near the end of them.

I was hoping to skate by for another month using my airbed mattress on the queen bedframe, so I could put a mattress purchase on the next month's credit card. Alas, my luck ran out, and I also thought, eh screw it - why spread the pain over several months when I could get the big stuff all purchased and be done with it?

So I bought a mattress Sunday afternoon and had it delivered on Tuesday so I could double up on a coffee table purchase from Overstock.com. While I loved that sleep number mattress, I decided on a regular one. I didn't love that when you have an adjustable mattress, well that eats air pumps for lunch. And a weak air pump means that in the back of your mind, you might wake up in a mattress crater. My sleep number has remained consistent and I'm just not into adjustable mattresses that can change position but can adjust down and I have a cat with claws. I went for simple and with the expectation that the mattress will be consistently firm.

Got it ($1150) and the coffee table ($150) on Tuesday.

Monday I went to Best Buy, which seemed to have the best prices even with the 5% off on Target, and got a the 32 inch TV, burly TV stand, digital thru the air antenna ($550). Set it up last night. The other nice aspect of top floor living is that the $25 digital antenna worked great. Ready for the Super Bowl party.

Right now the only big purchase left is a couch and possibly a chair, or perhaps for flexibility a sectional. After that, with smaller chairs, end tables, vacuum I'll see what discounters will do for me. And if I have to, rent a car for a weekend and do some runs. Lawyer friend (his last day as a co worker was yesterday) offered his dining room table. I'll measure my dining room space (think it might be a little small for the table) but I'm actually a little meh about it. I'm really liking the wide open space ... I find it relaxing.

Pictures next.

Net worth December 2012

January 12th, 2013 at 08:35 pm

A little late with this Big Grin

Well, as I wrote before I took the bull by the horns and bought a 2bd, 1.75bth Lake City condo in late October. I've included it and the mortgage in my calculations. To keep myself consistent, I'm still not including the farmette in (also because I don't have a good idea on its worth). The 20% down dropped my taxable cash position a bit, and I expect that it will drop a bit more because I do plan to bite the bullet and refresh the kitchen. However, the 401K/Roth IRA/403B accounts are doing well. According to my notes, I've been contributing the 16K/17K max in my 403B for 4 years, and have put 5K into a Roth for 6 years.

Starting in Jan 2013, I've decided to ease up on making the 403B contributions a bit - still will contribute 10K to it, but with mortgage, fees, property taxes, and other etceras I wanted to boost my paycheck a bit to compensate. (For the curious - from my credit union, I got a 15 yr fixed mortgage at 3%, for 126K. My CU appears not to be selling it to Fannie or Freddie). I've also cashed in my 1yr CD to consolidate accounts, and frankly, to get a slightly better interest rate in ING.

$305,846 IRA/403B
$162,373 Vanguard taxable
$42,488 stock
$14,061 I-bonds
0$ CDs
$68,023 ING
$3,235 immediate cash

$157,500 condo
-$124,888 mortgage

$628,818 total

December 2012 ($628,818 total, $290,180 in taxable cash accounts)
June 2012 ($617,902 total, $362,619 in taxable accounts)
December 2011 ($592,163 total, $356,567 in taxable accounts)
June 2011 ($596,791 total, $376,359)
December 2010 ($575,346 total, $356,542)
June 2010 ($553,023 total, $369,589)
December 2009 ($551,300 total, $385,771)
June 2009 ($512,054 total, $379,475)
Dec 2008 ($498,148 total, $386,021)
June 2008 ($524,261 total, $387,481)
Dec 2007 ($328,688 total, $192,747)
June 2007 ($176,422 total, $48,205)
Dec 2006 ($132,062 total, $40,329)
June 2006 ($120,261 total, $65,148)
Dec 2005 ($67,778 total, $23,740)
June 2005 ($46,115 total, $11,293)
Dec 2004 ($38,338 total, $7,558)
June 2004 ($29,050 total, $4,533)

getting back to routine

January 5th, 2013 at 11:52 pm

Happy Holidays, and best of success in all your fiscal endeavors for 2013.

As for me, I'm getting back into the swing of routine. A different routine - I now can depend on me waking up at 7:45, and getting out the door at about 8:15 - 8:20, to catch any of the three downtown express buses. One (the 522) got me downtown on the 26th in 15 minutes. Man that was nice.

Done with carpet tile, just finished with the major wall painting (painting trim I'm sure is a forever project). I moved 2 full car loads of my stuff at the old place to the new condo, with the last full car load (books) perhaps will happen in the next week or two.

The next 'goal' is get set up enough to host the super Bowl party... first Sunday of February. For that, I'll break down and buy that TV, and get some seating. After that, the fridge and stove work like champs.

I have been doing lots of mini goals with the condo - got all the lighting to work, put post-its on the rooms to remind me what I need to do in them, arranged a charging station to hem in all the electronic crap in one area, am making a pile of stuff to donate/recycle (sometimes its just easier to move it, then donate it), arranged the entry way, monitored when the garbage gets picked up so I can slip a contractors bag of nasty carpet or dried paint waste when the dumpster is empty. Lawyer friend came by with his half full truck and took 15 bags - hard to tell if he will swing around again. He soon will not be a co worker - he's heading for another job at another non-profit. Hopefully we can still keep in touch...if nothing else, he's another dead pool player.

Received a box of organic produce from sister, and I've sent her a Christmas fish in return. Also sent her before and after condo pics.

Our own Spondilucks won the 2012 Dead Pool pool, so I mailed the proceeds to her. She hosted a New Year's Eve soiree which was a whole lot of fun. We had a great time comparing methodologies! Right now the 2013 pool has again 13 players - I might have 2 more and am willing to wait a day or two longer, but after that it becomes not fair to others who got their list in...especially if you are planning on playing Hugo Chavez. Smile

Still holding out on not having Internet at home - what I might do is write posts when I can then publish them one after the other. My net worth took a dip because I put down 20%, but it is still around 600K. The 403B really perked up at the very end - it alone is at 181K.

...as I was saying (long)

December 13th, 2012 at 08:50 pm

Well, this is the first post in about 5 months. My entry title is a take off on Jack Paar's first words when he came back to his Tonight show after a big long kerfluffle.

Anyway, what happened was not a mere storm to my routine it was a fiscal hurricane (apologies to those still coming back from ss Sandy). It was all self induced. Pull up a chair and let me tell you about it.

First of all, no more DH. Actually, just to be clear, DH was more a DP (partner). We never got married, but we were together for over 20 years. I fudged the legal aspects of the relationship to provide myself a hair more anonymity. And now, it matters little except for the fact that no marriage, no divorce.

I had been dissatisfied in our relationship for some time, but something good usually happened that I could go on for a little longer. Last July though, I just looked around and saw that DH (okay, DP) was not going to change and I was damned, if I continued, that I was going to spend my next 30 years picking up after him. I blew...for me I blew, and then while I snapped back I snapped back into a different place ... a different realization.

We broke up, but we did go to Argentina together. I did give him the option to not go (he took out trip insurance), but told him that we all did want him to come. I can't say what he thought about the whole thing. I know that strangely enough, it took the heat off of me. If he did something cringe worthy, I didn't think of it as a reflection on our relationship because there now wasn't one.

Next day after I snapped, I went to my credit union in search of a home loan. Which, if you look at my net worth, was easy to get. I had 20% and could qualify pretty easy for a 3% 15 yr fixed. Next I thought hard about what I really really wanted. I thought, wouldn't it be nice to have a real yard? Yeah, I suppose, but really yard work only appealed to me once in awhile, while plants in the yard grew relentlessly. And if I waited for Seattle home prices to turn reasonable, well I'd still be spending 30 yrs waiting for that. Plus, if I truly wanted to do yard work for a couple of weeks, I could fly out, spend some time with sister at the farmette, help her with the garden and weeding, and since I co-own the farmette, well, it helps me also.

After a bit of searching, I found probably one of the last sweet condo deals in Seattle, out in Lake City/Cedar Park, out at the northeast edge of Seattle. And yet the bus commute was 20 minutes shorter than what I'm used to (buses here are express, and I'm on the last stop before downtown), and the neighborhood itself sports a +90 walkability score. So I now am a proud condo owner.

With it, well I'm still spending money right and left. However, I'm buying quality and getting exactly what I want. New carpet, but carpet tile instead of wall to wall shag; new paint, but high end paint which means I can get away with 1/2 coats, only buying 1 gallon and taking only 1/2 sessions to paint a room. V.I. (kitty) has moved in with me and seems to have settled in well. Of course that litter genie could have helped much.

I can't rightly say that I'm saving money yet, but I am saving my sanity, resetting my routine, making new friends (I'm now closer to Spondilucks, who invited me to her New Year's party).

More to come, but as it is, while life is different, it is nicer for me than before.